Bankole Thompson, the editor-in-chief and dean of The PuLSE Institute and one of the most outspoken journalists in the country on race and economic injustice, will speak next month on issues affecting the Black community at Lockheed Martin, the Maryland-based global security and aerospace company.
Thompson accepted an invitation from Lockheed Martin to join a Leadership Panel on May 6 organized by the company’s Black Excellence Council to discuss a plethora of socioeconomic and cultural issues and challenges facing Black people. The panel is part of the company’s Belonging Leadership Development series, an ongoing program that encourages intimate dialogue on key issues affecting its employees of different ethnic backgrounds.
A multidimensional journalist, Thompson is an opinion columnist at The Detroit News and a daily radio show host. A leading voice in the media on race, leadership and economic inequality issues, Thompson has been described by the Eisenhower Foundation in Washington D.C. as a “courageous voice on behalf of the dispossessed and disenfranchised, a shining example of journalism for the public good.”
His journalistic work has been noted for its glaring contributions in the continuing fight for racial equality and economic justice in the nation. His twice-a-week column at The Detroit News deals with presidential politics, culture, public opinion, leadership and socioeconomic issues.
Thompson has also written for The Guardian, the British newspaper of record in Europe, where his work focused on politics and the economy. He was a correspondent and analyst for IPS (Inter Press Service) North America bureau at the United Nations, where his analysis on the historical 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama were translated into different international languages across Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
At The PuLSE Institute, Thompson provides editorial and strategic leadership for the national independent anti-poverty think tank headquartered in Detroit, the nation’s largest African American city. As dean of the Institute, Thompson also oversees its most prestigious program, the Academy of Fellows, which is made up of leading professionals serving as senior fellows from various background with a commitment to fighting poverty.
The founding of The PuLSE Institute in 2018, was inspired by his illuminating and influential work on economic and racial justice issues which has elevated the discourse around poverty and inequality in Detroit
He also hosts REDLINE, a political news magazine show on 910 AM Super Station-Detroit, which airs weekdays from 11am-1pm EST.
He has received many community awards for his social impact including the 2014 Frederick Douglass Award, Jewish Community Relations Council 2015 Tzedakah Award (which in Hebrew means justice and righteousness) from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr Award and the 2011 Black Family Development Inc Humanitarian Award to name a few.
In 2018, Thompson was honored with a Congressional Record testimonial by U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell officially placing his body of work into the record of the Congress.
A media thought leader Thompson delivered the 20th Annual Slavery to Freedom lecture at Michigan State University last February, where he was invited to cap the two decades of the University’s Lecture Series on the Black freedom struggle, and whose previous speakers included the late Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis and humanitarian and civil rights elder statesman Harry Belafonte.
He is the author of a pair of books on former President Barack Obama based on a series of exclusive sit-down interviews with Obama. His work has been cited in books and documentaries and he has been featured in the international media for his persistent work about poverty and inequality.
For example, last summer after the death of Floyd, Thompson, was featured in De Standaard, the leading Dutch-language newspaper in Belgium, the home of the European Union. He was interviewed in an hour long Q&A with the major European newspaper with a daily readership of 715,000 discussing the wider implications of Floyd’s death and what it means for American democracy, the administration of justice in cities like Detroit, which is the largest Black city in the nation.
Thompson has appeared before many diverse audiences and leading organizations as featured and keynote speaker including the American Jewish Committee Distinguished Annual Leadership Dinner, Jewish Council for Public Affairs national conference, Morehouse College, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, DTE Energy Tri-Annual Leadership Summit, the Federal Bench and Bar Conference for the Eastern District of Michigan, Henry Ford Health System Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Providence- Rhode Island NAACP 98th Freedom Fund Dinner, Flint NAACP 36th Annual Freedom Fund Dinner, Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference on civil rights, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 50th anniversary among others.
Thompson not only continues to be a voice for justice, but he has also been an advocate for many causes. For example, in 2014, he agreed for the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries to set up and administer a Fund in his name called the “Bankole Thompson Fund for Veterans and Teen Moms,” to raise funds to support transitional housing for veterans and homeless and pregnant teenagers. To date, the Fund continues to help DRMM clients who are part of Detroit’s marginalized and underserved community.
In recognition of his journalistic contributions, the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library in 2015, established the “Bankole Thompson Papers,” a comprehensive physical and digital collection to preserve Thompson’s work for students and scholars from around the world. The Bentley houses the papers of every Michigan governor and other key figures in the state’s history.
Lockheed Martin bills itself as a company “Committed to creating an inclusive work environment where diversity and inclusion are understood, valued and leveraged, and where individuals and teams are able to maximize their potential.”
For example, in its 2019 Global Diversity and Inclusion report, Marillyn A. Hewson, the president, CEO and Chairman of Lockheed Martin wrote, “At Lockheed Martin, we believe that our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a business imperative, helping to drive our innovation and global leadership. As we seek to protect lives, advance scientific discovery, and spur economic growth, we recognize that our ability to continue to shape the future will depend on attracting and retaining a talented, diverse, and inclusive workforce.”
The issue of equity and inclusion has taken center stage in the wake of the global Black Lives Matter movement since George Floyd, a Black man who died under the knee of a White Minneapolis police officer in 2020. Many corporations are now being challenged to improve real diversity in their company leadership.